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After fending off an unprovoked attack by a couple of cubes, Voyager decides to assist Unimatrix Zero with their resistance against the Borg Collective.
3rd - 10th March 2018
1st & 15th July 2001
The Borg invasion of the bridge raged on despite the dwindling numbers on both sides. Some crewmembers retreated into turbolifts to avoid the adapted drones trying to grab them. Any drones that were downed were no longer getting replaced.
Tom ducked as a phaser beam barrelled toward him. He heard it strike something close behind him, which sparked and squeaked before making a massive thud. He meekly looked around over his shoulder to see a squirming drone lying next to the viewscreen, then forward again to catch Jessie's ambivalent response as she lowered her phaser.
Tuvok meanwhile ran out of modifications to his phaser and opted to neck pinch his attacker. When that only made her a little dizzy, he took the opportunity to grab a container that he knew Kathryn hid under her chair cushion, but she thought he didn't know about. As soon as the drone recovered he shoved the opened flask in her face. The unfortunate drone inhaled it and her eye instantly bugged out, a smile spread on her face. Seconds later she passed out on the floor.
"No one can handle the Janeway quintuple strength blend," Tuvok mused. He quickly closed the flask since even he was starting to get the shakes.
Harry stood at his station, staring straight ahead, growing increasingly grey.
Jessie tapped at her phaser gingerly as another drone strode over to her. A couple shots did the trick to down it, unfortunately the light from the beam illuminating another drone approaching from in front of Tactical. Once spotted, she noticed that everytime the red alert light went off he disappeared in the shadows. "Oh for... can't we turn the effing lights back on? What kind of emergency lights are these?"
Craig heard her and peered over the Tactical station, shakily with his phaser in hand. The drone had turned around to stare at him instead. He panicked and pointed the phaser at him.
"I like your hair, it's sharp," they said with a smile.
Craig had already pressed the fire button, so they were down before he could really react to the compliment.
"Huh?" he squeaked.
That left only one drone left, the one which had attacked Harry and scared away a lot of the back station red shirts. They paced across the back of the bridge to either go for Craig or follow them into the turbolifts.
The one next to Harry opened, getting both their attention. They turned their heads robotically towards the person who ran out. Their eyes widened in rage, "you!" they both growled before charging for him.
James stopped for a moment to stare at the drone with a raised eyebrow, then stepped forward at the last second so they'd not only miss him, but slam face first into each other. Both ended up on the floor.
Relieved, Tom hurried to re-take his seat and tap away at his station. "Yes," he grinned, "we got away, warp nine and I didn't even have to look. Who's the man?"
Tuvok swivelled around to focus on Tactical. "Are the Borg in pursuit?"
Craig nervously glanced down, fully expecting to answer with a yes. The results he got left him shocked, "no."
The Borg Queen held her forehead and staggered back to the severed heads on spike graveyard mumbling, "why that rotten little spaw..." She gasped and span around, "why can I no longer see on board that puny little ship?"
"All squadrons disposed of, my Queen," the drone she was face to face with responded.
"That's impossible, I..." the Queen spat before marching to the central computers. Various screens popped up, all of them showing a blank starfield. "How could not one of you notice them escaping?"
She waited for the usual delayed by a second response. All of them said the same thing; it happened quickly and the helm order was not seen by any of the invaders. It still didn't satisfy her, she darted around the chamber in a mixture of panic and anger.
"I'm losing voices. Five in spatial grid ninety six, twelve in grid one eighty two, one on deck 1003," the Queen said, her voice shaking. "Hundreds. Thousands."
What sounded like somebody slurping the last few drops of a drink through a straw echoed through the quiet chamber.
The Queen turned and glared toward the alcove it was seemingly coming from. There a drone stood sleep giggling, while another looked to be refilling their feeding tubes with more brown liquid. Their brow began to sweat, the rest of them froze as the Borg Queen slowly approached, staring daggers into his back.
For a few minutes it was uncomfortably silent. The tension was too much for him and so he inhaled for barely a second, making another slurping sound. Moments later the usual meaty looking guards were dragging him away.
"No, you can't! I'm not alone, you can't take us all, we'll resist you!" he screamed as he was dragged through the doors.
"Unimatrix Zero, but how?" the Queen ominously said. She eye-balled the slurping drone's replacement walking up to re-connect the tube to the alcove, which had been left dripping all over the floor. The Queen's eyes flared up in fury, her hand raised to give him a slap, then flounced off grumbling, "Janeway, you did this," over and over again.
The drone waited a moment before checking on his sore head with a pained scowl on his face.
"Well that's weird, they seemed so organised, almost like how they used to be. I wonder why they changed back," Jessie said.
"Indeed," Tuvok agreed. "They may not have expected us to discreetly retreat during an attack on the Bridge." He ignored Tom's proud smile. "They will notice we are gone, so perhaps we need to keep our course erratic to avoid them pursuing us."
"Good plan, boss," Tom said, finally turning his back on everyone to get to work.
Tuvok approached Tactical, catching Craig checking his hair in the reflective surface of the back station. "Lieutenant," he startled the boy. "Get a report from every department head, and a representative on every deck. Make sure there are no Borg stragglers. Until then, keep the Bridge and Engineering sealed."
"Ye...yes sir," Craig stuttered.
"Are you sure that's such a good idea, Tuvok?" James asked.
Tuvok glanced toward him, raising an eyebrow in surprise since he hadn't notice his arrival. Before he could ask what he meant, James pointed down at the two lying by his feet. The eyebrow managed to shoot even higher.
"Fascinating, the Borg always retrieve their fallen," Tuvok said, then he noticed that one of them was Harry. "Mr Kim has been assimilated?"
Tom's eyes widened in horror, "what?" He leapt up to his feet so he could run over. James pushed his hand out as a hint to stop.
Jessie did a double take between the helm and him. "What are you doing, we're trying to avoid all of us getting it too. Get back to the helm."
"I got us away in the first place. Stop talking to me like I'm an idiot, it's bad enough my wife does it," Tom snapped without even looking at her. She didn't see it, but James spotted a very brief lip curl on Tom's face when he spoke. He noticed and played it off with a throat clear.
"Uh huh, bad enough," James said with a suspicious tone.
Tom's eyes narrowed, "shove it Taylor, you can't say anything." He used James' brief confusion to get around and crouch down beside his friend.
It only gave him a second though. James rolled his eyes and nudged him back gently with his foot, Tom still ended up stumbling almost onto his back.
Jessie shook her head while going over to check on the helm.
"What did you... god you are a heartless little brat, aren't you?" Tom snarled as he scrambled back to his feet.
James glanced towards Tuvok, "maybe we should secure them somewhere. Maybe Sickbay."
"Agreed," Tuvok said on approach.
"What's this, did you hit him? What is it with you and smacking Borg's, you psychopath?" Tom asked furiously, while pointing at Harry's swollen face.
"Enough with the frivolousness Mr Paris, this is a serious situation," Tuvok scolded on approach. Tom backed away a few steps, sighing impatiently.
James frowned and knelt down beside the drone, eyes scanning for a mechanical part in particular. He reached for a tiny piece attached to the side of the throat to carefully pull it away.
"Oh yeah, cos that worked so well when you did it to Seven," Tom commented huffily from afar.
"Oh give it a rest. We're being attacked by the Borg and you're hissying like a two year old that's been told to go home when his friend's been taken to hospital. Harry can't play right now, he's got a big boo boo," Jessie grumbled.
Tom acted like he had been slapped in the face, and yet laughed off her remarks. "Okay Janeway, your wish is my command." Jessie's eyes flashed in rage in response.
Tuvok sighed like a tired parent after the tenth tantrum. "Mr Kim will not have a transmitter yet, he'll be in the early stages of assimilation. We must be cautious. Bridge to Sickbay."
"Sickbay here," the Doctor's voice responded in a grumpy tone. "Unless this is an emergency, it'll have to wait."
"I'm afraid so, Doctor. We have an assimilated crewmember and an abandoned, possibly disconnected drone here," Tuvok said.
James meanwhile smirked in Tom's direction, he stared back with scorn. "So is it bad enough when Janeway does it too?"
Tom's eyes narrowed. "Oh haha. Wise guy," he muttered under his breath.
Everyone heard the annoyed sigh over the comm, as well as a female gasp. "I see. Then I'm going to need some help down here. Is Mr Paris free?"
Tom glanced toward Jessie sitting in his chair, for the time being not touching anything. "Hell no."
Tuvok's other eyebrow raised slightly. "He will be. I'll arrange transport and Security teams. Standby for..."
"Wait Commander. Are you insinuating the Borg attacked us?" Seven's worried voice cut in.
"You catch on quick," James commented.
"Of course, attitude. Try something new for once, this is all your fault anyway," Seven's voice said.
Tom couldn't help but snicker and smile smugly. "Oh really? You tell him Seven."
James laughed mostly out of disbelief, "what's this? Seven's blaming me for something? Is this an example of the something new I should be doing?"
Tuvok hinted at him to be quiet with a raised hand gesture. "What are you implying, Seven?"
"I believe she's referring to Morgan, though I do not understand why," the Doctor's voice said.
"Morgan?" James said with worry. "What's happened to her?"
"That is what I'm trying to figure out. She's unconscious with no visible cause, but she's stable. I don't understand it, yet," the Doctor's voice replied.
"I'm not sure I get it," Morgan said.
The woman surrounded by the eery white mist brought her extended arm back to her side. "What it are you referring to?"
Morgan looked around, her eyes squinting as the mist seemed to be making her eyes water, then back ahead of her. "Pretty much all of it. You still haven't told me who you are. I'm not exactly keen on groping someone I know, let alone a stranger."
The woman laughed softly. "It's not necessary anyway. Your path's already open."
"Yeah," Morgan groaned and scowled, "that. This vague crap, it's getting annoying."
"I can't tell you everything, as much as I'd like to," the woman said. "As for who I am, I don't expect you to remember me."
"Try me," Morgan said.
The woman sighed and appeared to think it over. "It's been a long time for you. I suppose it does not matter today. A few years ago I was a member of the Voyager crew. As my abilities grew and circumstances changed, I determined it was unsafe for me to stay with them. My name is Kes."
Morgan frowned to the woman's lack of surprise. "Kes? I know the name."
"It's alright, you were very young. I didn't expect you to..." Kes said.
"Oh," Morgan's face lit up, then she was confused. "I always thought Kes was a myth, an excuse for Neelix to justify Flower Stew Tribute Sunday every year."
Kes couldn't help but laugh, she wasn't surprised. "Some things never change, I see. No, I'm quite real."
"You didn't really date him, did you?" Morgan asked in disgust.
"I think we're losing track of the topic," Kes said quickly. Morgan scrunched up her face even further and mouthed eew. "I made this link with you not to only to warn you, but to help you. Things are not what they seem. We have all been deceived and that's part of the reason why I left."
Morgan looked on suspiciously, "part of?"
Kes shook her head, "that's not important right now. What is, is that a short time before you were born, my powers began to develop. I sensed things that others couldn't."
"What kind of powers? Stuff like making annoying vague mist?" Morgan asked a touch irritably.
The comment put Kes off for a moment, she laughed it off. "That's a little difficult to explain. Basically my people are capable of telepathy, telekinesis, visions and a higher sense." That didn't put Morgan's confused mind at ease, Kes noticed and smiled sympathetically. "The best example is why I'm here. When I saw you I had a vision. I saw that you would be split into two girls. I knew that people wouldn't see you as separate individuals so I thought I had to do something."
"Okay, so you foresaw my coming on board fine, but people don't call me Kiara or anything. We are separate," Morgan said.
Kes' sympathetic eyes seemed to be looking straight through her. Morgan felt a little unnerved by it. "Are you?" she was asked gently. "Do people care to find out the things you like, or do they assume and you have to correct them? Do they assume you and her are capable of the same, that Kiara will be exactly like you?"
"I don't care about any of that. You said you'd help me against the Borg, you said my ship was in danger," Morgan's voice started to crack. "How are you going to do that?"
"Technically I already have," Kes said much to Morgan's confusion and annoyance. "You and Kiara's paths were being split apart from before she was even born. I wasn't the only one aware of it. I don't suppose you've met an entity known as Q?"
Morgan pulled a face that told Kes her answer, still she waited for it. "Do you mean that creepy guy who brought all those kids onto the ship? Mum said he had powers, is he like you?"
Kes laughed, "not in the slightest."
"So, what's he got to do with anything?" Morgan asked.
"For sometime he was monitoring me, to see what I knew or what I intended to do. Finally he confronted me," Kes said. She could feel Morgan's disdain and disgust floating over to her in waves, so she smiled reassuringly. "No, no. Q told me himself; that you would arrive soon and I needed to prepare. If the two of you were identical the cycle would continue, he said."
Morgan frowned, "what cycle? You mean the paradox with my assimilation?" Kes smiled warmly, Morgan took it as a yes. "But Tiran broke the cycle by destroying the sphere, then there's the time chip. But you say you're here because I needed a push to fight the Borg who are acting weirdly cos of me, so are you suggesting the cycle's still not yet broken? Is Kiara..."
"Q has already given Kiara what she needs to break the cycle before she was born, and I have with you. Time is short though..." Kes said.
"Wh...what?" Morgan stuttered, her eyes fell down to the hand she had held out before. She began to tremble. "What did you do to me? What did he do to Kiara?"
"I'm not sure, he refused to say," Kes answered with regret. "As for you, don't be afraid. All I've given you is what you already have, potential waiting inside of you. We cannot afford to wait for it to manifest. You know what I'm referring to, don't you?"
Morgan's trembling increased, she folded her arms in a vain attempt to settle it. "No, I don't."
Kes stepped forward to place a comforting hand on her shoulder, it felt warmer than most, it did nothing to soothe her though. "Yes you do. You've always known what you are. The Borg fear and yet desire that same power, they mustn't have it. Use their greed against them."
The whole of the Conference room were focusing all of their attention on her for once, but Seven didn't like it one bit. They all looked angry, even Tuvok had disappointment in his eyes.
"Allow me to repeat what you have told us so I understand fully," Tuvok said.
Tom winced, "it's a few scenes too late for the recap, Tuvok."
Tuvok of course ignored him, everyone else settled for trying to so they could keep the Seven glare on.
"You discovered that a select few Borg gather in a unconscious construct which allows them to be individuals, and you chose not to tell us. The Borg Queen is hunting them down so they ask you to help them deliver a virus which will hide them," Tuvok said.
For the first time Seven felt her throat throbbing. She was used to everyone's scorn, but not Tuvok's. Everyone else remained silent and watched her squirm.
"So not only do you take it on yourself to aid them without informing senior staff, you enlist the Captain's daughter who you unwittingly infect with a modified version of said virus, in order to start a civil war. During this the Borg attack the Unimatrix, and you tell us that Morgan got involved and was likely seen by the Collective to be involved in this."
Seven tried to clear the lump in her throat, cutting him off unintentionally. "I tried to inform the Captain, but she assaulted me with a chocolate ball, thing." Tom snorted into quiet laughter.
"When you woke up from another secret Unimatrix Zero visit, you found Morgan unconscious near her alcove, and only decided to tell us after the Borg attacked," Tuvok said. "Is that all or is there anything else you neglected to tell us?"
"No," Seven answered, "though as I understand it, we managed to evade the Borg despite great odds. Correct?"
Jessie rolled her eyes, "here we go."
Seven didn't even give her a side eye, she continued as if she only paused between sentences. "Then the virus must have been sent. The Queen was clearly distracted by other concerns."
"Okay, so what about Morgan? Is the sixteen year old only collateral damage to you?" James asked harshly.
"Much better than being the catalyst for all of this mess," Seven sniped back.
"Seven," Tuvok warned.
James groaned impatiently, he turned around to walk out, all while muttering an odd few insults. The last one Tom overheard and so he cringed.
"And he calls me tactless," he commented.
"The Borg will most certainly attack us again once they learn the details of our involvement. This civil war might be our only advantage here," Tuvok said. Seven brightened up considerably. "We need intel."
Seven wavered slightly, she knew it would mean seeing Axum again and it gave her an uncomfortable, fluttery feeling in her stomach which made her throat throb once more. "I understand, Commander."
Tuvok seemed impressed, "excellent, I am pleased you understand. Assist Torres with repairs in the shuttle bay, apparently a drone tried to assimilate the shuttle replicator." Seven's jaw dropped. Tuvok then turned towards Jessie. "Crewman, collect Taylor and Miss Henderson, bring them to Cargo Bay Two. You are to go into Unimatrix Zero to get an update on what is happening within the collective."
"Wait, what?" Seven stammered, her face turned completely white. "But I am the only one who can go inside, this isn't something any old Borg can do."
"I am aware of that yes," Tuvok said with his eyebrow twitching slightly. It seemed to everyone but Seven like he was losing his patience.
"But..." Seven looked around for some help, she wasn't surprised to get any. "If you must fail at this awaymission, at least leave out Taylor. I told you it was during his assimilation that the Collective started to misfire and..."
"And after that incident was when Unimatrix Zero was upgraded to include the Cherry cola factory, yes. And the settings Morgan used to visit with you are in the alcove's memory, which will allow Taylor and Henderson to enter. In a Collective free environment such as Zero, your concerns about Taylor are unwarranted," Tuvok said.
Jessie frowned, "wait, am I going in or not? I definitely wouldn't pair Tani up with James, that's just..."
Tom sniggered obnoxiously, "oh and why not? Worried something naughty will happen?"
Jessie's frown turned into a scowl pointed at him, "you know, you really should get that seen to before it gets infected."
"Get what seen?" Tom asked before a fist flew into his nose.
Tuvok sighed impatiently, "indeed. And yes, I have not forgotten your inclusion, Crewman. Your presence is vital for it to succeed. You will understand eventually."
For a reason Jessie didn't understand Seven glared at her in the manner she only used for Morgan and James. A mixture of scorn and jealousy. She didn't get it but smiled anyway.
The Doctor mumbled incoherently as he juggled his attention between Seven and Morgan's alcoves. Harry stood in the one furthest to the left, snoozing not silently with a forcefield surrounding him.
James and Jessie watched them both from the station, James' attention mostly remained fixed on Harry.
"So, if Seven's the only one with this Zero malfunction..." James said.
"No mom, he'll hit me!" Harry sleep screeched, startling everyone. Poor Doctor jumped enough to make him drop the tricorder. He grumbled to himself as he knelt down to pick it up.
Jessie laughed it off, "Tuvok has something up his sleeve. I assume that's why the Doc's here."
On cue the Doctor shuffled over to Morgan's alcove looking considerably brighter. "Ah, there it is, so I'll move that..." He hurried over to the spare on Seven's other side. "Over here."
"I guess those two are ours," James said, glancing between Morgan's and the spare.
Jessie pulled a face, "yeah, I probably should warn you before..." The Cargo Bay doors opened, she groaned in response to James' confusion. "Watch your butt."
"Don't you mean my back?" James said. Fortunately for him he decided to look over his shoulder and caught a new arrival walking directly up to him. She moaned in disappointment and moved to one side. "Oh," James' face fail.
"Hey cutie," Tani winked at him. "Looks like it's just you and me, hmm?" she said sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes.
Jessie shook her head, mouthing wow. "So desperate."
"Yes you are," Tani said without missing a beat.
"I'm having chocolate before dinner and you can't stop me, mom!" Harry screamed, startling the life out of Tani, but this time the others were expecting it. Jessie smiled, having gotten the full Tani jump a few feet show.
"Eureka," the Doctor grinned. Despite that he turned to the trio with a grumpy look in his eye, "now if you're quite finished with the pointless bickering, step into your assigned alcoves."
"Which are...?" James asked.
The Doctor groaned, "no wonder all the ladies are fighting over you." Tani grinned as if she was complimented, Jessie meanwhile made a mental note to program a self slapping routine to his program.
"I have no idea what to say to that," James stammered to both Jessie and Tani's amusement.
"Miracles do happen," the Doctor smirked. "Surely Tuvok told you before he sent you here." He got three head shakes, making him sigh. "Morgan's alcove must be used by the piggybacker, I've programmed the one on the opposite side to do the same. So obviously Seven's is for the one with the mutation."
"I assumed we were doing things differently. I thought Tuvok said you were key to this new plan?" James asked in Jessie's direction.
Jessie frowned and nodded, "he did, vital he said." Tani mocked her by mouthing her words while pulling a face. Jessie didn't notice, she was too busy trying to fight off building dread. "Oh god no."
James was even more confused by that. "What is it?"
A short while later the three appeared in the middle of the factory's courtyard, much to the surprise and concern of the people there. One of which was the Klingon, Korok, who seemed the least pleased out of everyone.
"Oh good start, maybe we should..." James said awkwardly.
Tani's eyes lit up as she spotted a nearby table filled with bottles. "Oooh, don't mind if I do." She joined the bemused people sitting there, too unnerved to really argue with her.
"I'm so glad Tuvok thought to invite her," Jessie muttered impatiently.
"You, are you the Queen's latest henchman!" Korok bellowed while shoving a bat'leth almost in James' not impressed face. "Prepare to die, you piece of..."
James snatched it from him to the Klingon's further fury. "Oh thanks, always wanted to try one of these things." To poke the Klingon further, he gave it a little twirl in between them.
"I'll rip out your throat, you pathetic little man child," Korok snapped and lunged for his throat.
"Enough Korok!" Axum yelled from afar.
Korok didn't listen and continued, however one half hearted push sent him back first to the ground.
Tani giggled, having seen the second half of the so called fight. "Oh god, he's so hot."
Axum was on approach, but the push temporarily put him off. He still did, but slowly and kept at a distance from the new arrivals. "You must be Annika's friends. I hope."
"Who?" Tani asked on behalf of the whole team.
"My apologies. I believe you know her as Seven of Nine," Axum said.
Jessie shrivelled up her nose, "no we're not." The whole courtyard were quickly on their guard. Korok scrambled up, even more so. "We are from Voyager though." Everyone but Korok did settle down on hearing that, he though growled at the second person that day to insult his honour.
"That is a relief," Axum sighed, stepping forward. He focused on James first, "you must be Taylor. She has told me much about you."
"Oh I'm sure," James said with distaste.
Axum chuckled, "yes." He glanced at Jessie, then noticed Tani. "Rex and Henderson, I assume?"
"Good guess," Jessie commented slightly bitterly.
"Might I ask how you are here without Annika?" Axum said with some disappointment in his voice.
Jessie moaned a little and looked away. Tani shrugged and got back to her drinks.
"Yeah um, I'm still not 100% on that," James said uncomfortably.
Axum was about to question further when a group of children scampered over to them. "It is, it is her," one said.
"Oh hey, it is, it's crazy lady," another kid giggled and pointed toward Jessie.
She twitched, "excuse me?"
Tani sniggered, "oh please yes, tell us more."
"Crazy lady?" Axum's eyebrow raised.
"Remember the lady who was running around pulling other girls' hair, and shouting at people talking, telling them to keep it down," the first kid said. Axum's eyes widened in realisation.
Jessie's though narrowed, "that's not true. I didn't..."
"Oh. You're the sole survivor of the Genesis incident," Axum said, unintentionally over the top of her second sentence. She scowled toward him, making him flinch.
"Boring, tell us more crazy Jessie tales," Tani giggled.
James frowned so much it gave him a headache. "Wait, sole survivor, Genesis what? I don't think we're the crazy ones here."
"It's okay James," Jessie sighed in defeat. "Apparently I have the mutation. I just didn't notice, or remember, since our assimilation glitch was messing with my head."
"So," Korok huffed, turning his attention to her instead. "This stupid factory is your fault, is it? It should be your head I remove for this..."
"Oh what was I thinking, this is yours. Have it back," James said, tossing the bat'leth at Korok's head. Once again he was on the floor, not for long though as he faded out of everyone's sight.
"Oh I wouldn't worry. We can't die here. He'll be back," Axum said.
James frowned, "who's worried?"
Tani was practically drooling, "oh my god, yum. I'm so dating him later."
Jessie shook her head, "sad cow." Tani scowled up at her. "What was he whining about?"
Axum gestured to the nearby stream flowing from the factory. The awayteam looked briefly but were none of the wiser. "Thanks to the virus, we remember more from our lives as a drone. The Queen programmed this into Unimatrix Zero to lure us and you. The question is, where did she get the idea from? It is a Human beverage, and Annika had no love of it."
Steam started to rise from Jessie, James looked on in worry. "Oh, so it's got to be me then!?" she snapped.
"Oh, you don't like this stuff either?" Axum looked apologetic.
Jessie stammered a bit, then looked away nervously. Still she was mad enough to clench her fists.
"Don't be upset. The Queen would've discovered us eventually. Besides, the factory has given us the edge we need to beat her," Axum smiled.
"So the virus is working, what good is it? I mean, how many have you got?" James asked.
"It's difficult to know for certain. I think it's safe to say our numbers are in the thousands," Axum replied.
Tani pointed a judgmental stare in his direction. "Wait a goddamn minute. Seven sacrificed Morgan and endangered our ship, so a few thousand drones could scratch at a collective of billions. You'll be squished within an hour, what's the point?"
Jessie sighed, feeling a little torn. "They were dead anyway, was my understanding. But yeah, the only difference is the Borg are more pissed off at us."
Axum's face suddenly became the picture of desperateness. "You couldn't be more wrong, and the two of you should know that better than most. The Queen's weaker than she's ever been, she demands absolute perfection above all else. If one drone's mind wanders for even a second, she loses her composure. Imagine her reaction to losing thousands of drones, permanently."
James smirked at the thought. He quickly shook it off, doing so he saw a table flicker and disappear in the corner of his eye only for a second. "That's the master plan? Piss off the Borg Queen? I thought this was supposed to be a resistance movement, not a bunch of toddlers pushing their plate of veg on the floor."
"Of course not," Axum snapped. "The Queen cannot control us anymore, and so she cannot see us either. She'll know for example that one drone on one ship is an usurper, but not which. Knowing that drone could be doing absolutely anything will be infuriating to her. She's powerless here and she knows it. What can she do about it? Absolutely nothing."
"Oh so you fancy a quick brew, do you, Two of Twelve? We'll see about that," the Queen sneered, narrowing her eyes at the Borg cube on the monitor in front of her. A blink later it was in billions of pieces surrounded by green haze. She burst into hysterical cackles.
Several drones behind her joined in with hyper giggles. That soured her mood and so she swung around to glare at them. "Did I tell you to stop?" The drones continued to laugh as they stepped into empty alcoves close by.
The Queen's eyes narrowed further, her pupils crawled to the left toward another screen, this time a fleet of three spheres. "I'm sorry Six of Seventeen, I didn't quite catch that." This time she clapped and the entire fleet went up in flames. "Boom, says the traitor," she laughed.
A couple of aliens hurried over to join Axum and the awayteam, both of which looked utterly terrified. "Axum, the Queen, she's activated auto destruct, we don't have..." the one speaking disappeared before she could finish.
Axum's eyes widened in horror, "good god, she's mad."
"You're only getting that picture now?" Jessie said in a bemused tone.
"Is it happening to your ship too, Indred?" Axum asked the second new arrival.
They tried to speak but were trembling too much. Axum placed a comforting hand on their shoulder to try and soothe them. It helped enough for them to answer, "no, it's gone. The StarBorg's Coffee with two floors and free Wifi. Gone."
The whole courtyard burst into angered and panicked discussion. James and Jessie looked at one another with similar bored and annoyed expressions. Tani meanwhile found it funny, though unfortunately she did so mid sip, and created extra fizz in her glass from laughing too much.
"That monster. We must fight back," Axum gasped.
"Oh but the destroyed ship of thousands, that's child's play," Jessie said in contempt.
Axum didn't hear, or chose to ignore her tone, as well as notice her and James' expressions as he swung around to face them. "Now you see why we must fight. The Borg Queen is a monster who must be stopped."
"And you know what, if Janeway wasn't locked up that wouldn't need to be said. Janeway would already have us on the front lines," James commented.
Jessie struggled not to laugh, "maybe we should keep her in there until this is over. We should go back."
James smiled knowingly, "oh I don't think that'll be necessary."
Tom crept up to the forcefield blocked quarters on his tip toes. For the moment it was quiet, too quiet, he didn't want to risk changing that. A minute or so later he reached the panel by the door, clicking his tongue disapprovingly at the open panel nearby. He checked gingerly with his little finger to see if the forcefield was still there, the slight tingle told him it was and so he smiled far too smugly for his own good.
"Ah James, not good enough to beat me," he whispered. So he refocused on the wall panel beside the door. He barely had time to think about what he was going to do when he heard thundered footsteps galloping towards him from the inside of the quarters.
"Who's there? Put that coffee back in, nowwwwwwwwww!" Kathryn's voice screamed. Fists slammed into the door over and over.
Tom nearly wet himself, squeaked and ran off as if his life depended on it, and it probably did.
B'Elanna firmly bit her lip and tongue as Seven for the third time in ten minutes had walked up to her with her smug, know it all stare down. It didn't help that B'Elanna had been stuck inside the shuttle Cochrane, not because the shuttle itself was particularly difficult, a stray nanoprobe attached to the helm control was a five second job. She had to sit on the floor to remove it, and with her growing pregnancy bump, attempting twice to get up had zapped up her strength.
Seven's increasing superiority had a hand in it too, naturally.
"The shuttle replicator has been purified, Lieutenant. As has the shuttle bay life support systems. The Delta Flyer is clean," Seven reported. "Is there anything else you'd like me to do or should I return to my own job?"
B'Elanna tried not to glare up at her, but it was harder than getting up. She managed a fake smile. "If you don't mind, can you check the bay doors? The replicator is pretty close to it and it shouldn't take you that long."
"No it shouldn't," Seven said, waltsing off. B'Elanna growled and once more attempted to get up. This time she managed and was able to step out of the shuttle and make her way out.
What she could only describe as a Tom shaped blur sped past her on the way out of the bay. She assumed Tom was paranoid about his other woman so paid it no mind. No sooner had she stepped outside into the corridor, she heard the telltale sounds of a shuttle's engines starting up. "What the...?"
A massive bang, followed by a wooshing sound, then finally silence, gave her a pretty good idea what happened. Not why though. All she could do was frown.
Meanwhile on the Bridge, Kiara had made herself at home on her mother's chair, kicking her feet happily while everyone else worked. Her eyes lit up at something on the viewscreen.
"Tuvvie, Craigy, there's someone flying outside!" she giggled and pointed.
Tuvok and Craig glanced up at the viewscreen. Their eyes bugged out at the sight of Seven flailing her arms about outside whilst doing slow somersaults.
"Oh yeah, about time," a crewmember at the back commented. The woman nearby hi fived him.
"That is not the attitude I expect after a fellow crewmember has been so cruelly killed," Tuvok scolded them. The two crewmembers couldn't take him seriously, they could see Craig doing a fist bump behind him and smirking.
"You're absolutely right, sir," the woman said. She pressed a few commands in on her station. Poppy music started to blare over the entire deck.
Tuvok resisted the very big urge to face palm against his own station.
Jessie woke up first, a mere two seconds later James and Tani did as well at the same time. The Doctor looked them over with tricorders quickly before checking the alcove's arm stations.
"Oh god, no wonder the Borg's always cranky. Sleeping standing up's given me a right pain in the neck," Jessie commented whilst stepping down.
"Really? I don't remember seeing you sleep here before," Tani said, brandishing a smug smile.
Jessie's eyes rolled across to James on her left, "must be just me."
James laughed quietly, "no it's not. Who should report in, we don't all need to go."
"I'll do it. I need to go back to the bridge anyway. Might grab something to wake me up first though," Jessie said, stifling a yawn.
Tani looked on sympathetically, instantly making her suspicious. "Yeah, daytime naps do take it out of you old bats. Leave it to me." She dashed off leaving Jessie to fume.
"I'm just gonna..." James stammered, edging for the door. That was until Jessie turned her head towards him, so he changed direction completely to go over to where Harry was apparently regenerating. "Do my job."
"Uh huh. Klingon threatens to kill me, nearly going over a mountain so you follow, sticking up for me against Janeway of all people, that's where you have my back. A little brat calls me old and you're off, it's great to know where the line is at long last," Jessie said.
"I always have your back, I'm just a bit... scared of it right now," James laughed a tad nervously.
Luckily for him Jessie responded by laughing, albeit briefly. "I'd be a bit more worried about your own," she said, pointing over his shoulder. She walked out, leaving him to it.
James didn't have to look, he already had a good idea what she was pointing at.
"I've got you now, you vile inbred," Harry cackled quietly, shuffling his feet up to James so as to not make any other sounds. "Hold still, resistance is fut..." James elbowed him in the ribs, "ooph!"
The Doctor sighed impatiently as the Borgified Harry curled up on the floor wheezing until he passed out. "Great. I was waiting for him to wake up before I could see if the neural extraction was successful."
"I think it's safe to say that no," James said.
The Doctor's commbadge chirped twice, he groaned in response. "Swell. I'll have to try again when I get back." He hurried out of the bay.
James shook his head in disbelief, "no hurry Doc." He glanced down at Harry, just in time to catch him putting his thumb into his mouth while curling further into a foetal position. "No hurry at all," this time he meant it.
With a clear flask filled with a brown icy slush in hand, Jessie hurried to the turbolift and pressed the call button. While waiting she heard a pained moan coming from her right. Curious she walked off down the corridor to check it out. She didn't have to go very far, only a few steps away in one of the jeffries tube inlets sat somebody wincing over her splayed leg.
"Danny?" Jessie said, hurrying over to check on her.
The woman's face lit up at the sight of her. "Jess, you're a lifesaver. Help me up, please."
Jessie crouched down, eyeing the ankle which to her looked a little swollen underneath her trouser leg. "Maybe you should stay off it. I'll get the Doc."
"No, no," Danny said quickly. "It's just a little twist. All I need is some help getting up."
"I dunno," Jessie mumbled.
"I'm not that heavy, you know. Is James around, maybe he can carry me," Danny said, passing her a flirtatious wink.
Jessie couldn't help but groan. "Fortunately no."
"Oooph, trouble in paradise again?" Danny teased.
Despite what she said, Jessie helped the woman up to her feet, making her wince once a tiny bit of weight was on the bad foot.
"No, I just mean he has his fill of women trying to grope him," Jessie said tiredly.
"Aaaw don't worry about it. We both know he only has eyes for one," Danny giggled.
Jessie stared with sharpening eyes, and still Danny smiled charmingly back as if she had no idea what that meant. Jessie though shook her head as she started to slowly walk, guiding her along. "Don't start doing that crap again."
"What again?" Danny asked in an innocent tone.
"You know what. The nosey little matchmaker routine," Jessie grumbled.
Danny cringed with every step, but still managed to have a mischievous glint in her eye. "I'm only thinking of your well being Jess. Just thought I should warn you."
"Warn me?" Jessie said irritably.
The pair reached the turbolift. Jessie pressed the call button again just in case the lift had already been and gone. Once more they had to wait.
"From what you told me, he's still pretty much digging you. It's plain as day for anyone to see," Danny said.
Jessie felt half tempted to leave her where they were. Helping her limp a few feet around a corner was nothing, the conversation though was exhausting. "Don't do this Danny. I'm not blind, I'd know it."
Danny burst into giggles. "Yeah right." Jessie merely rolled her eyes in response. Fortunately the turbolift arrived so they hobbled in. "I think you would notice, you just don't want to admit it."
"Quiet time now Danny, save your strength," Jessie muttered bitterly.
Danny sighed melodramatically. "Don't say I didn't warn you," she said in a sing-song voice. Jessie groaned and looked away to stare at the wall.
Harry had been put back in his alcove, only this time he sat inside it, unconsciously shifting around to get comfortable.
James sat on the nearby step occasionally glancing over to check on him.
The bay doors opened, he turned his head to check. He groaned quietly since it was Seven, but that quickly turned into a twitching smile when he noticed her hair had almost fallen completely out of her bun, some of it stuck up in the air.
"Windy outside?" he asked.
Seven stopped halfway to her alcove, pointing her wider than usual eyes at him. "What?" she snipped. James pointed at her hair, to which she responded to by turning up her nose. "Have you finished interfering in my affairs?" she asked rudely.
"Your affairs? This is about the Borg, isn't it?" James asked. He heard shuffling beside him so he turned his head to check on Harry, just in time to see his back slide down so he ended up lying on the floor again.
Seven walked toward him, then opted to stop a couple of feet away and inch away warily as if he had an infectious disease. "How have you managed to fool everyone for so long? I've known from the moment you viciously attacked me on the bridge. Do they have any idea as to the damage you've caused?"
James' amusement faded away, leaving behind a stony face. "None of this is about me. You need a new tune. This projection is getting a little flat."
"Excuse me? How am I projecting?" Seven said flatly despite the rage building in her mind.
"I've lost count as to how many times you've caused us trouble. I mean, the incident on the bridge is the first example and oh of course, I'm the bad guy in that story. What a coincidence," James replied.
Seven's bug eyed expression finally let up so she could scowl at him. "I was Borg, I was not myself. Why do you think I work so hard for this crew?"
"Yes, thank you for dating that xenophobic alien and trying to kill Morgan twice. That was super handy," James said.
"I was in love. Of course you wouldn't understand that, you soulless monster," Seven scowled.
James was about to respond when Harry sat up in his sleep, mumbled something, then rested his head against his shoulder. James looked at him bemused as Harry smiled contently and squeezed that arm.
He looked up at Seven who he was a little surprised to find looked even angrier than she did before. She made a little high pitched hmph sound and barged over to her alcove, leaving him more than a little flummoxed.
"What did I do now?" James groaned pathetically. He glanced down at Harry who was starting to dribble. That was all the incentive he needed to carefully push him back so he'd lean against the wall again.
"What, again!? He was already on his lunch break when I left an hour ago," the Doctor complained to a worn out looking tall brunette man.
"He said it was dinner three time. I assumed he couldn't pronounce his free's properly," he said meekly.
The Doctor shook his head and walked off to currently his only patient; Morgan lying on the head biobed. He started the scanner, muttering impatiently to himself, "so hard to find decent help on this ship."
"I did that two minutes ago Doc, no change," the man said. The Doctor continued as if he said nothing. The brush off didn't bother him, he figured he could slip out for a breather and he wouldn't know he was gone. Sadly for him by the time he reached the door it opened for new patients to enter. "Danny oh god, what happened?"
Danny hobbled in with Jessie's help, the latter firmly biting her bottom lip with a tense scowl on her face.
"Nothing major Ian, took a tumble during the attack," Danny replied.
Ian insisted he take over helping her, Jessie shrugged and separated from her. He lead her to the nearest biobed and helped her lie down. The Doctor wandered over with a regenerator. He immediately regretted it as Ian started to fret over her as if she was dying.
"Oh for... it's only a twisted ankle, nothing's broken," he muttered.
Ian sighed in relief, "good, great. Thanks Doc." To the Doctor's surprise he went in for a tight hug. If he were a biological lifeform it would've winded him, "you're the best."
"It's like having an inflated Neelix around," the Doctor grumbled while returning to the first biobed.
Jessie followed looking concerned. "So, do you know what's wrong with her yet?"
The Doctor let out a frustrated sigh. "I can't find anything wrong with her. It seems she was trying to go into Unimatrix Zero while Seven was already inside. It rejecting her shouldn't have done this, it would've started a normal regeneration cycle."
"She's been under a lot of stress lately. Maybe that's all this is," Jessie said, not sounding completely sure herself.
"I'd normally be able to detect such a thing. Yes she's exhausted but not enough to cause her to pass out," the Doctor disagreed. "Our only lead is Unimatrix Zero, and so far it hasn't been harmful to our people."
Axum and another Zero resident watched in the bushes as a drone stood with their back on them, near a river straight ahead. It kept laughing, Axum wasn't sure what at. He was getting a little tired of it, it had been there for nearly half an hour. He reached out to grab a pebble.
"You're so... funny looking," he overheard the drone giggle, putting him off briefly. "What? No, you are. What do you... hey!" they drunkenly snapped. It didn't last, they started giggling again.
Axum had more than enough, he tossed the pebble a few metres to the right of the drone. Their head darted to the right, one eye bugged out. They ran after it and beyond screaming, "I'll get you traitor, resistance is irrelevant!"
A short way down the stream they tripped over a twig. Axum and his partner waited, anticipating more to happen. Nothing did other than the drone trying to assimilate a tree.
"What happened to the trap?" Axum's partner asked.
He was equally baffled, not helped by a woman yelling in the distance. The pair ran through the forest to her aid. They didn't have to go far to find a woman fleeing from a log swinging from the trees.
"Ah, must've got my calcs wrong," Axum's partner said, relieved to have solved his earlier confusion.
The woman meanwhile tripped on another obvious branch and was immediately thrown up into the air by a net which not only surrounded her, it started to spark. Axum and his teammate approached casually.
"Leave this one to me," Axum smiled. His partner nodded and walked away. Axum directed his smile at the woman in the net. It had stopped sending out shocks, but the woman still twitched as if it were. Her blonde hair stuck up with smoke trailing from it. "Comfortable?"
"I... hate this series," Seven said slowly and painfully.
Axum chuckled, "easier said than done."
"No, it's very easy," Seven muttered.
"I think I designed this trap a little too well," Axum continued.
Seven tried to stare at him, it was difficult to focus since she was still twitching. "Are you even listening to me?"
"What are you doing here?" Axum asked.
Seven's resulting growl turned into a tired groan. "I was looking for you." Axum's eyebrow raised in surprise, she though clicked her tongue and looked away. "Of course, that you hear. Korok was concerned. Not me, definitely not now."
Axum laughed, "that's interesting. After he had that run in with your friend, he came back swearing to rain death and dishonour on his family." Seven stared at him quizzically and with great interest. "We were all relieved when he woke up. It was getting a bit graphic."
"Is that where you got the idea for these traps?" Seven bitterly asked.
"They seem to work," Axum said a little too proudly. Seven tried her hand at a death glare, it only made his smile bigger to her annoyance. He pulled out a knife to cut the rope holding the net up. His arms flew out to catch her a second too late so she ended up in a big heap in the middle of a muddy puddle. "Oops, sorry."
Seven grumbled a few swearwords as she stood back up.
"I wasn't expecting you back so soon. We were to have a strategy meeting later to discuss our battle plans since the attacks have escalated," Axum said.
Seven spotted the drone nearby trying to pull his tubules out of the tree and failing. "So I see."
Axum stared at her puzzled. "Did your friends not tell you? We've lost eleven Borg ships in the last three hours. Each one self destructed."
"Of course they didn't," Seven said, confusing Axum further. "It's just like them to exclude me from everything. They look down on me, you wouldn't believe the amount of neglect I receive."
"Well you did distribute the virus via a teenager who I hear is in a coma," Axum said and quickly regretted. Seven's eyes widened accusingly. "My real body is on a Borg ship in the Beta Quadrant. On the other side of the galaxy."
She didn't know why but disappointment overwhelmed her enough to not feel angry anymore. It showed on her face, breaking her icy demeanour. "Oh, that's so far away," she said softly.
"Yes," Axum sighed despondently. "I was so looking forward to sampling it in the real world."
Seven's face hardened back, eyes returned to piercing and bulging. "Are you insinuating you'd prefer to meet Cherry Coke over me?"
Axum brought out another charming smile, "why choose, everything I love is right here in Unimatrix Zero. That will be enough for me."
"It was sufficient before," Seven's voice and face softened once more. Their eyes lingered on each other. Axum reached for her hand. The drone noticed and became a little more desperate to pull the tubules away.
"Oh Annika. Will you wait for me?" Axum asked.
Seven smiled, "of course Axum. I won't forget you, even when the next episode starts."
The poor drone started to whimper. They picked up a stray branch nearby to use it as a badly makeshift saw.
Axum gasped and drew Seven into an embrace, "you promise?"
"Yes I promise. Not even when the temptation of ruining multiple 'ships including my own and angering fans everywhere comes up, will I stray. You are my only world," Seven said, fluttering her eyelids.
"Oh Ann... I'm sorry, Seven," Axum swooned.
Seven leaned in, "you may call me Annika, only you."
The drone only had one tubule left, but he was too late. He couldn't even look away, he could hear what was happening. After a couple of rounds of throwing up, he resorted to headbutting the tree until it finally knocked him unconscious, allowing him to escape.
The Borg Queen stared at her chamber, red in the face for once with her hands on her hips. "I'm not cleaning this up!" she screamed.
The whole table were in an uproar, constantly shouting and talking over each other. Only Tuvok sat in silence at the head of the table, slowly losing the will to live. The final straw strolled in a little late and carrying something.
"Triple chocolate cookies everyone?" Neelix asked cheerfully.
Everyone grimaced in his direction.
"Oh my god, no, never..." B'Elanna snapped.
Tom did a double take a couple of seconds ahead of everyone else. "Wait, that sounds somewhat edible. What's the catch?"
"It isn't," James suggested.
Neelix frowned as the whole room declined him anyway. He opted to sit down in a huff, the people beside him eyed the tray with actual cookies on them hungrily. They didn't smell or look bad in the slightest.
"Now, perhaps we can return to the matter at hand, civilly," Tuvok said.
"Are you new here?" Craig commented.
Tom shook his head impatiently. "I just think we need to continue skedaddling while we still can. Treat Harry, wake up Morgan and leave those Zero guys to it."
"Didn't you hear the bit about the self destructing Borg ships?" Jessie snapped.
Tuvok's shoulders and eyebrows fell, he folded his hands together and pressed them by his mouth.
"And that's a bad thing now?" Neelix stammered.
Tom nodded furiously, pointing his open palm toward him. "Finally, a level head in this room. I was starting to think I was the only sane one here." B'Elanna cleared her throat and glared at him, making him nervous. "I mean we, we were the only sane ones here."
"No, I'm firmly on the side that doesn't have us spend the rest of our lives fearing a Borg revenge attack," B'Elanna said.
"Then, wha..." Tom said while rapidly blinking, "why the throat clear hint?"
"Look I'm not keen on that either, but what can we actually do to help now? We've given the resistance quite a bit already," Craig stuttered at the same time somebody else stomped into the room.
"We do have one more weapon to utilise," Seven said whilst taking a seat. Anyone who glanced across at her were treat to a rare smile, there were shudders all around the table. B'Elanna frowned instead.
Tuvok was a little grateful her entrance had quietened the room down once more. He lowered his hands to rest on the table. "And may I ask, what is that?"
"The resistance's problem is limited manpower. The first connection glitch and the Zero pathogen has likely only liberated a percent of the entire Collective, and even then the numbers are varied at different times," Seven said.
B'Elanna's frown intensified, "didn't I see you go flying out the shuttle bay doors earlier?"
Seven's eyebrow flickered up briefly, "you did."
Tom laughed sheepishly, then coughed as a cover. It did the opposite, everyone looked at him. "So erm, manpower huh. I hope you're not volunteering us for assimilation."
"Of course not," Seven scoffed. "The Borg believe we caused the initial malfunction, their evidence is conclusive..."
"Oh I see where this is going," James said in deadpan.
"I don't," Tom muttered.
Seven wasn't put off, "I checked before I arrived here. There's a sphere nearby, it appears to have not detected us yet. We send an awayteam to it discreetly to deploy our weapon."
"Since when do we have a weapon?" Craig whispered to a straight faced James. His eyes rolled across toward him, making him look more bored than annoyed to Craig.
"Once captured, the entire area will be a dead zone for Borg activity. Any ship that enters the area will be disconnected," Seven continued.
Curious and pretty confused expressions were exchanged between the majority of the room while she talked. Tom had the misfortune of doing that with Jessie, who looked more annoyed than anything. He shuddered and glanced away.
B'Elanna sighed once they had ran out of people. "You're suggesting we recreate the incident two years ago when Jessie and James's shuttle was assimilated, and Jessie..."
"Please don't finish that," Jessie said, blushing furiously.
"Correct. It should keep us safe until we leave the area, and when we leave we do this again. It'll not only ensure our safe passage, but also give the resistance more fighters," Seven continued.
B'Elanna turned her impatience towards Tuvok, who looked a little sick as well. "This James caused the Borg glitch is conjecture at best. You have no proof, no reason for it happening."
Seven's eyes lit up, even sparkled. She opened her mouth to reply. Tuvok though beat her to it, "I must agree. Even if there were proof, I would not authorise a mission such as that."
"But I do. The Doctor was there when we removed his cortical node, tell him," Seven said, glancing around for the Doctor, who wasn't there. "Oh. The Borg could not establish a two way connection, it caused a feedback loop which disrupted the interlink frequency."
"Yeah but I'm still stuck on why. How do we know it'll happen again? That's the point, it could've been a random malfunction. Happen to anyone sort of thing," B'Elanna said.
Seven scowled and folded her arms, "oh it most certainly couldn't happen to anyone. You don't know why because Taylor endangers the crew everyday by keeping it a secret."
Tom gasped and pointed at James accusingly, "oh my god. It's true, you've been hanging in the closet all these years."
"You wish," Jessie muttered.
Tom twitched, he tried to narrow his eyes. "Don't be too disappointed, Jess," he tried to say lightly but her comment hit a few nerves.
"Are you done?" James asked in a bored voice. Both Tom and Seven glared at him, making him lose his straight faced composure for a moment. "No, too bad. We're not doing that plan. I've got a better idea."
All of the alcoves had been filled, four out of five of the occupants were seen to by the Doctor for a couple of minutes. Harry still remained in the furthest away one absent mindedly picking at the nanoprobe in his cheek, while his other hand kept meekly poking the forcefield blocking him.
"That's it. Everything's set up. Now all that's left is to choose who to connect to who," the Doctor said whilst walking over to the station.
"Yeah um, there's been an ickle mistake. Can you let me out, I gotta use the little boy's room," Harry whimpered.
He was ignored, more or less. James quietly laughed to himself.
"I overheard Tani volunteer to keep an eye on Seven," Jessie said.
Tani pulled a number of faces. "Don't flatter yourself. I don't want to catch old hagness from you anyway."
"Fine. I'm glad that's settled," Jessie said through gritted teeth. "So it'll be Seven and Tani, James and I."
Tani flinched, eyebrow twitching. The Doctor sighed and rolled his eyes. Tom though was enjoying the show, all while munching on popcorn. B'Elanna snatched it off him to stuff her own face.
"No way. I'd rather put up with you, than leave you alone with my cutie badass!" Tani hissed.
Tom snorted into laugher. Not for long though as it dislodged some popcorn he was in the middle of swallowing, it left him coughing and spluttering.
"You mean like every day for the last nearly twenty years," Jessie said in deadpan. Tani growled in response.
B'Elanna roughly patted Tom on the back over and over to stop him from choking.
"Okay!" the Doctor said a lot louder than he intended. "The teams are Tani and Seven, James and Jessie, since that's what I was told first and it actually means literally nothing. Now, I can return to treating Mr Kim."
A red faced Tom raised his hand, "hang on Doc." The Doctor groaned. "If we can hook up James and Tani to the mutatees, how come we can't connect a few others to join them? Maybe Tuvok has some mind held hokey he can use."
"But Tom, if we did that we wouldn't have anyone on the Bridge. We'd have to count on a bunch of previously unknown redshirts to run it," B'Elanna pointed out.
Tuvok wondered if he was forgetting something important as he sat in the Captain's chair. He had little time to think of it. Every few seconds he could hear the wrong input sound coming from Opps, followed by an annoyed grunt.
"I swear, that's my password. Favourite colour, hash and number," Ian grumbled.
The worst sound though had to be what was coming from Tactical; open mouthed eating, wrapper rustling and slurping from a straw. Tuvok tried to ignore it but it was making him picture what mess he'd have to return to later.
Lastly he heard a squeak, then a loud click come from the front of the bridge. There Danny was fiddling with the back of the helm seat with a grin on her face. "Oooh, that was fun. Gotta do that again," she giggled rudely.
Tom's eyes were frighteningly wide, his forehead dripped with sweat. "Not my chair," he whimpered. Then he noticed his wife smiling at him with a couple of popcorn crumbs around her mouth. "Yeah, you're right. As always. We should go..."
"But, but if I'm hooked up to Seven, I'll keep getting kicked out when she dies. You know that'll happen every ten seconds," Tani cried.
"In a minute," Tom smiled.
"That reminds me," the Doctor said. "Seven tells me that if a mutated drone is knocked unconscious or dies in Unimatrix Zero they simply wake up with no injuries. However the drones attacking Zero don't have the same luxury. I don't know what will happen if James or Tani are defeated. They do not have the mutation but they will be connected to someone who does, I'm not sure if that'll protect them or not."
Tom winced so much he whistled through his teeth. "Oh that's too bad. Whatever can we do?" he pretended to sound concerned but it wasn't convincing anyone.
"I'm glad you asked," the Doctor smiled regardless. "I've modified it so that both of them can leave Zero whenever they wish, just like Seven and Jessie can. So if you think you're in danger, simply will yourself awake and you'll pull out."
"But if I leave and Jessie doesn't, will I be able to get back in?" James asked.
The commline bleeped and yet no one said anything. The whole room eventually heard a woman laughed dirtily. James and Jessie recognised the voice as Danny's and groaned.
"Shouldn't be a problem," the Doctor replied as he finished his modifications. "That should be it. Begin when you're ready, and good luck."
Tom burst out laughing, "oh I get it now, that's gold. Hey James, if you got anymore questions I got a book you can read. It might get a bit yucky for you, so I'll replicate the version with the no pictures, size thirty font and small words so you can read it."
"If you're going to waste further time, I'm going to quickly..." Seven said, gesturing to the console in front of her. She stepped down.
James meanwhile snatched the tricorder the Doctor left on the alcove arm and tossed it toward Tom. Seven at the last minute got in the way, it clobbered her in the head. He laughed nervously, "heh, good enough."
The Doctor massaged the bridge of his nose as if he had a headache. "Not again. You two go on ahead," he sighed. Tani's eyes lit up, he glared at her, "not you!"
As soon as James and Jessie arrived in the forest, they had to quickly leap to one side to avoid getting trampled by a swarm of Borg drones. One double backed to stare at James with a confused look on their face.
"Are you...?" she asked.
James' eyes darted from one side to another while he thought it over. "Yes," he replied to Jessie's bemusement.
"Oh, okay," the drone laughed and carried on.
Axum spotted them and hurried over. "Ah good, I'm glad somebody's here. The attacks have increased, their behaviour's becoming even more unpredictable. I'm not sure if the Queen's even controlling them, they're so out of it. Some of my people have locked themselves in the factory, and I really wish I thought of that."
Jessie's eyes narrowed, "how come you always happen to be nearby? Don't you ever wake up and you know, help the resistance?"
"I'll have you know I have. My ship is on the border of Species 8472's fluidic space and I contacted them for assistance," Axum said huffily.
James stared at him blankly. "Species 8472 are a transdimensional species. They have no borders."
Jessie glanced at him and shrugged. "So, how did that go?" she asked Axum.
"Well my only partner on my ship tried to seduce one of them but..." Axum replied, his voice wavering. He looked a little squeamish. "Yeah, something about In The Flesh not being canon before his throat was ripped out. So not well."
Neither James or Jessie looked surprised, though Jessie gingerly touched her own throat protectively. The drone from earlier decided to return then and stare at them suspiciously.
"Wait a minute. Yes is good," she said. She gasped and lunged for James. He pushed her so she'd stumble backwards, unaware of how close they stood to the edge of the Cherry Coke-fall. She tumbled down it screaming, "Janeway!"
Axum laughed at the confused looks on James and Jessie's faces. "Yeah, they're all saying that name a lot. It's making it easier to hear them coming, so..."
"What's up with that?" Jessie asked, making Axum frown. "Morgan said it too. The Queen hates Janeway so much she has this vendetta, but why? The 8472 Alliance? I doubt it's taking Seven cos that was quite the favour we did for her."
"Hey," Axum grunted, "jealousy isn't a pretty trait. My Annika is doing the best she can and is a valued member of your crew."
Jessie clenched her jaw. "Jealousy? Sure, my dream is to walk around in a painted on outfit over the top of a girdle and six inch heels, with my boobs in my face. I go around correcting people, antagonising and trying to kill them in my free time but no one does it better than perfect Annika. You got me, you little prick."
James looked around desperately, and finally focused in the direction the horde of drones went in, who were coming back armed with branches. Some were laughing, others were shouting like the earlier drone did. "Oh look, those guys are coming back. I'll just..." He ran off toward them.
To Axum's huge relief Seven and Tani appeared in between him and Jessie, who was busy rolling up her sleeves.
"So erm yes, this Janeway hatred huh. The Voyager is what she hates and fears. She sees everything in the perspective of a collective. Janeway is its queen. It's that simple," Axum answered nervously.
The Queen stared straight ahead of her, eyes sharpening and her jaw quivering. The focus of her attention stared back, sneering at her, judging her, mocking her.
She launched herself forward, clawing at them viciously. "Nyah, raaaar, nyaaaah, die die die!" Bits of paper flew around her and floated around the chamber as if someone tossed confetti.
The drones nearby laughed at her on their way into empty alcoves, passing a ridiculously high pile of dead drones.
The Queen stepped back, leaving the Janeway poster in shredded pieces. Unfortunately the only bit left hanging from the wall where the pin was, was the right eye staring in her direction. "Why isn't she with the others? I want to destroy her once and for all, bwahahahahahaha!"
A massive amount of beeping got Ian's attention, he swallowed hard once he read it. "Commander, the Borg sphere has spotted us. It's on route."
"Time?" Tuvok questioned calmly.
"Twenty minutes, unless they jump to transwarp," Tom replied.
Tuvok looked over his shoulder towards an empty Tactical, then at Ian at Opps. "Where's Mr Williams?"
"He said duh lunner time and ran out," Ian answered meekly.
"Of course," Tuvok sighed despondently. He walked over to retake his usual station. "No matter. Battle stations. We must be ready."
Drones were rematerialising throughout Unimatrix Zero at a much more rapid pace than they were before. While some immediately charged straight for the nearest resident they could find, the majority of them wandered around with a mix of looking high as a kite and completely baffled.
Jessie rushed back to the courtyard to avoid a couple of the former type gunning for her. She ducked under one of the tables in time. They scanned around until they were convinced she wasn't there, then wandered off.
She was about to get out when she noticed a trio of drones standing around by the doors of the factory, trying to get in.
"Great, dropped my big stick," Jessie said, cringing as she fully expected Danny to laugh at her even in Zero. The table chose that moment to glitch out of existence, exposing her to anyone looking for her. "Oh hell," she stuttered while clambering to her feet and away from where the table previously stood.
"I'm telling you Negeri, this doesn't look like Whetherforks. It's too bright, and it's closed at 10am," a voice nearby said.
Jessie looked to the source which she found were the three drones at the door. They seemed normal until one of them decided to stick a finger up their nose and shimmy.
"It's got to be. It's morning and there was already a drunken broad lying on the floor," a different drone said, gesturing towards Jessie.
"You piece of sh..." Jessie grumbled, immediately put off by the nose picking drone sticking that same finger in their mouth.
"That just means it's a pub. Doesn't mean you're going to get your free coffee refills," the third drone, the one Jessie assumed she heard speak first, grumbled.
A familiar scream in the distance got her attention. Jessie hurried toward the entrance to see, in the corner of her eye the table reappeared. She couldn't help but roll her eyes.
The screams quickly grew close until she could finally see who it was coming from. Seven ran toward her, eyes extremely wide. Another sound seemed to be following her, a loud mechanical roaring sound but all Jessie could see were two Borg drones following her. It didn't take her long to spot the two drones had replaced their mechanical forearms for chainsaws, so she quickly ducked behind the courtyard pillars and hoped they hadn't seen her.
They didn't, they kept chasing Seven around in circles, laughing like hyper children.
One was tackled to the grass by someone leaping out from behind a tree. Something he quickly regretted as it tried to swing the chainsaw in his face. He rolled away, allowing the drone to turn the tables and pin him to the ground instead.
Jessie snuck a peek, her eyes widened in horror, "oh my god, James! What are you doing?"
James grabbed the attacking upper arm when the blade was within a couple of centimetres from him. He briefly looked to the side. "Oh hey Jess," he managed to sound casual.
Jessie reacted as he expected, she exploded into angered stutters, "don't hey Jess me!" She ran over to help.
The chainsaw drone tried to push down. Then the voices in his head snapped at him, "don't kill him you moron, you..." The crowd whittled down to less than half to start singing tunelessly, "say something that says something, say something."
To James' horror the chainsaw wielding drone started to sing along in high pitch, almost like he'd been kicked or grabbed. James kicked him away, sending the still singing drone into a sideways roll down into a nearby ditch, slamming into a tree.
"What a racket," Jessie cringed. She waited for James to get up before she gave his arm a good slap. "You idiot. Those guys were only chasing Seven. Not worth your life."
James' attention was on the tree, which disappeared to allow the drone to roll further into the ditch until he vanished himself. Seven's painful screaming brought his attention back. "Oh. Ooops."
"She'll be back. We dunno if you would be," Jessie scolded him.
"I guess, but at least now we know for sure," James said.
Jessie sighed, a little annoyed at the subject change. "Yeah, you were right. Unimatrix Zero isn't immune to the disconnect glitch."
"It also means Seven was as well," James said, his shoulders slumping. "I wonder how we'll know if we've done enough damage."
Another drone strolled by, eyeing Jessie with great interest. He winked seductively and made sure to sway his butt a bit after passing.
Jessie stared at nothing in particular with a blank face for so long James worried their Zero connection was going wrong. Only she eventually shuddered violently and shook her head rapidly. Once she had settled down slightly she managed to spit out, "that's how."
Everyone clung onto their stations until the shaking eased. Twice it seemed to and so some people let go prematurely, only to be tossed to the floor for another round.
"You know, it's far less stressful without Jessie emasculating into my ear," Tom tried to lighten the mood.
He regretted that immediately, he heard rude laughter emanate from the science station. "Oh you like some tough love, do ya?" Danny snickered.
On the opposite side of the bridge at the Engineering station, B'Elanna's eyes rolled up so high her eyelids twitched. "Who invited her back on the bridge?"
Tuvok sighed, "must we do this everytime? Focus on your duties." Danny laughed once more. Everyone were at a loss this time. "Remodulating shields have kept them at bay, they're steady at seventy percent." On cue the bridge shook again. "Sixty..."
"No!" Tom screamed at him desperately.
"Eight," Tuvok finished anyway with a blanker than usual stare.
Danny moaned in disappointment. "Oh, that's no fun."
"What did you expect? Oh that ship is attacking us, lets just sit here and let them beat the crap out of us. Maybe we should give them some chocolates," Ian said.
"Do you think so?" a man at the back of the bridge asked.
"Think, think what?" Tuvok said, he pointed at his station, "no matter. Return to your station."
"Do you think they'll give us chocolates?" the man asked hopefully.
Anyone watching Tuvok were treated to the rare sighting of him rolling his eyes. "Return to your usual post, Mr Williams." The man was more than eager to listen to him with chocolate on his mind.
"I hate to interrupt but the Borg ship is hailing," Ian reported.
"Probably just the usual; we are Borg, resistance has few tiles," Tom snickered.
B'Elanna groaned and loudly enough for the whole bridge to hear even over the battle noise. "Yes Tom, they're all looking at you. But no, they don't love or approve of you."
Tom laughed very nervously, he felt such a chill in the air he thought Kathryn was coming back. "But you do, right honey bear?"
B'Elanna merely grunted in response and looked down at her station.
"Ouch," Tom whimpered.
"On screen Mr Richards, please!" Tuvok ordered. Ian quickly complied. The viewscreen switched from the Borg sphere gunning for them to a pretty close up view of a Borg drone sporting Klingon forehead ridges. "This is Lieutenant Commander Tuvok of the Starship Voyager."
"General Korok," the drone said to everyone's surprise. "A large group of resistance members are attempting to gain control of this vessel. The connection to the Collective is strained here. Continue your assault, it will assist us. Once we have it we'll assist you."
Both of Tuvok's eyebrows raised high.
With no one left around, the rising frequency of the beeps coming from Morgan's biobed went unnoticed. Another tremor brought her around, startling her enough to sit bolt upright.
She looked around for any signs of life, but all she found were the flashing red lights on a number of computer screens. Another shake helped her put two and two together, so she bolted for the door.
The Doctor narrowed his eyes. "I don't know. I don't think so."
Harry stared back from his alcove/forcefield prison. "Why not? I am so..." he trailed off while his eyes slid to one side. "Blast, what's this ponse called?" He brightened up and looked ahead again, "Kim Harry. I like phasers and protons."
"Uh huh, you mean Captain Pro...?" the Doctor tried to ask. Before he could finish Harry's eyes flashed with rage and he started banging his fists furiously against the forcefield.
"Captain Janeway! I hate you so much, you wretched cow!" he screeched, resorting to scratching the forcefield viciously. He noticed the Doctor's unimpressed look on his face, calming him down. "Um, for never promoting me. It's been nearly six years."
"Actually, she did," the Doctor said, resisting a smirk for now.
That took Harry by big surprise, "what? Well what do you know. Well she still stinks, of coffee. And that smug grin when she's drinking it."
"So how's the weather in the Borg Collective today?" the Doctor smiled and asked.
Harry's eyes narrowed very tightly it almost looked like he was napping. "Perfect."
The Cargo Bay doors opened, the Doctor briefly glanced at them with a sigh. "Naturally," his smile turned into a smirk.
"Doc!" Morgan's voice yelled at him.
The Doctor did a double take at the doors, his eyes widened in surprise. Harry's nearly bugged out at the sight of her.
"Morgan, I'm glad to see you're awake but perhaps..." the Doctor said, brandishing a tricorder.
Morgan gently swiped it to one side, "I'm fine. It's too late to warn the bridge, so hook me up to Unimatrix Zero." Then she noticed the occupied alcoves, it left her stammering, "what? What's James and Jessie doing?"
"Oh. I can't say," the Doctor said while briefly darting his attention between her and Harry.
Morgan frowned, not getting it. "Why not?"
"Help, he's doing... er experiments and stuff," Harry blurted out shiftily. "On me, Kim, the girl and him," he said the last word with venom. He continued with a desperate voice, "please, he's already killed Seven and that annoying delusional brat I can't recall the name of."
"Really?" Morgan's face brightened up. The Doctor assumed she only heard the Seven part. She then scowled in his direction, "just how long was I out?"
"A few hours," the Doctor replied. "Don't listen to him, or her... them? Harry keeps coming and going." He stopped in anticipation to Morgan's confusion. Nothing happened for a good minute so he shrugged it off. "And no, I won't hook you up to Zero. Not after what happened the last time."
"But!" Morgan cried in protest.
The Doctor shook his head, "besides I can't. There's no one here to connect to."
"What happened to me had nothing to do with Unimatrix Zero," Morgan said. She noticed Harry watching her curiously. "Is Seven really dead, cos it looks like you don't need her to do it," she whispered.
"No," the Doctor groaned, "she and Tani are on a... timeout. Seven said she'd be back after she has prepared herself. Tani went with her to help, so I'm a little wary as to how."
"Fine, I'll go instead of Tani. You can't stop me," Morgan said.
Harry clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes. "Of course. Not content with doing more than enough. Truly a parasite."
Morgan slowly looked across to him, her face hardening. "What was that, I didn't hear it over the sound of you huffing like a baby."
"How droll," Harry laughed. He stared her down to try and intimidate her, but to Morgan it only looked like Harry puffing his cheeks. "Tens of thousands of my children's blood is on your hands, girl. All have died for your cause. Proud of yourself yet?"
"Huh?" Morgan frowned, she looked to the Doctor for confirmation. He shook his head. "I haven't killed anyone."
"Give it time," Harry smiled coldly. That did the trick, it give Morgan the shiver Harry wanted to see. "That's what your kind do, isn't it?"
The Doctor scoffed, "you have no right to judge humans what with your track record. Don't let her get to you Morgan, she's trying to get under your skin and manipulate you."
"Oh I wasn't judging humans, not yet anyway," Harry said casually.
The Doctor looked on confused, Morgan though flinched at his words. "Is she saying the virus Seven wanted is loose, and its killed people, drones?" she asked him very quietly.
"No, she self destructed her own ships to try and stop it," the Doctor whispered back. "Others will have died in the defense of Unimatrix Zero itself unfortunately, but the majority is the Borg's doing."
Morgan stared thoughtfully toward the floor. "The unmutated can die in Zero?" she mouthed. The Doctor read her lips and nodded. She smiled and turned to leave to his surprise.
On her way out the doors opened prematurely, but only to let Seven and Tani back into the bay. Only Seven didn't look her usual self. Instead of the catsuit she had put on a similar outfit to the one in Zero. Her usually tight bun hairstyle hung loosely over her shoulders. The worst part for Morgan was the smile on her face.
"Um, what the ever loving fu..." she stammered.
Tani grinned and ran over to greet her friend with a hug. "Morgan! You're okay, god don't do that crap again, you hear."
Morgan shakily smiled and nodded, "yeah no, I might after seeing this," she said, pointing at Seven. "What the hell?"
"Well after yet another near death experience, I thought..." Seven started to reply.
"Don't care. Don't go back in just yet Tani, wait for me. I've got an idea," Morgan said quickly, she ran around the pair to leave the bay.
"That I'd think more like my alter ego since she's more confident and people like her," Seven bitterly continued to answer.
Tani snorted into brief laughter, "I still think you should have done the flowery dress with sandals. You'd get away with it cos no one would know it was you."
"Yeah right, as if I would wear something so ludicrous," Seven scoffed.
Sparks flew from the back of the bridge during a barrage of shudders. Tuvok waited for them to end to report, "shields are at ten percent. Decks two and three are reporting power failures."
"Re-routing from secondary systems," Ian responded. He furiously tapped at Opps as quickly as possible. He sighed in relief and looked down to the nearby science station, "done. Is there anything else?"
Tuvok's eyebrow launched out of Deck One's ceiling and attacked the Borg ship. "We're in the middle of a battle..."
"So no," Ian said while leaving his station in a hurry.
Danny glanced over her shoulder curiously, while Tuvok secretly wished the Borg would hurry up and put him out of his illogical misery.
"What are you doing?" she asked once he got to her station.
"We may not survive this so I thought..." Ian said nervously. He dropped to one knee and grabbed Danny's hand. "Oh to hell with it. Danny, will you marry me?"
Tom's ears perked up, "whaaaa?" He swung his chair around but accidentally the wrong way, and so got full view of his wife death glaring him. He squeaked and turned back. "Come on really, who cares? Bunch of nobody we know's."
Danny's jaw dropped, "you're proposing now!"
Ian smiled sheepishly, "well?"
"Five percent. One more hit and the shields will fail," Tuvok said flatly.
"Of course I will," Danny giggled. The couple both jumped up to their feet, threw their arms around each other and started kissing.
Opps meanwhile started to constantly beep at the nobody manning it.
Morgan ran out of the nearby turbolift. "Tom, last chance. Open my mum's quarters or I'll tell her where the..." she spotted the making out couple and had to look away, gagging. "Oh my god, why?!"
"I've been thinking the same all day," Tuvok said.
Tom chuckled, he turned his chair around in a different direction to previously. "Morgan, Morgan. We're one shot away from dying or being the Queen's playmates, so do your worst. Janeway can't hurt me no more. I'm not afraid of her."
Morgan frowned much to his confusion. She looked towards opps and pressed something. "We have full control. Yammer boring yammer, fought with honour boring blah. Thank you. Okay?" Tom's face turned extremely white in the space of a second. "Got it. Never mind then. I'll be sure to pass the message on." She was back in the turbolift before Tom could think of responding.
"That was weird, and you'd think I'd be used to weird," B'Elanna said. Her eyes clasped on Danny and Ian, making her groan. "Do you guys ever breathe?" The couple finally separated to everyone's relief.
Harry's head jolted up towards the ceiling, it gave Tani nearby quite a fright. "No, how?"
"What now?" the Doctor asked tiredly.
"This ends. Now." Harry then shook his head and whimpered. "Uhoh. We've got to get out of here."
"Yes I've heard that one," the Doctor said.
Harry sighed despondently, "Doc it's me. I don't mean I need to get out of here, I mean Voyager itself. She's sending more ships to finish us off. That sphere was nothing compared to what's coming. She's completely lost it, even more so. You have no idea what horror we've unleashed... is Seven wearing leggings?"
Tani snickered while Seven raised an annoyed eyebrow.
"One disaster at a time," a familiar raspy voice said from the Cargo Bay doors. Everyone's attention drifted towards it.
"Captain?" Seven said in surprise. "You're free of your quarters, but how?"
Kathryn approached the group with Morgan following closely behind, eyeing Seven in clear distaste. "So the replicators have this glamour grandma of the nineties clothing range, but a plain black coffee is too much to ask?"
"That was a mistake, I meant to ask why not how," Seven muttered.
The Doctor smiled sympathetically. "That I'm also curious about. The how I mean."
"Apparently Tom blabbed to Morgan that his forcefield generator had a timer and so couldn't be turned off until it ran out. I'm thinking of doing the same when I put him back in the brig," Kathryn replied.
Morgan chuckled and glanced to one side for a brief second. "That's a bit lenient for you mum."
"I didn't say how long the timer would be for," Kathryn said flatly. She scanned the alcoves, eventually settling on one of the spares after a brief eyebrow raised look at Harry. "So, where do I stand? Please don't say Seven's."
"Neither," both Morgan and the Doctor answered at once. Morgan kept talking afterwards though, "she'll use her own, I'll use the one next to it. Just as long as you stand near me."
Kathryn nodded and followed her daughter towards the spare alcoves, their audience watched them skeptically.
"Seven," Morgan said, pointing at Seven's alcove. With her other hand she reached for her mum's.
Seven smiled smugly. "This is your plan? Go into Unimatrix Zero with your mum holding your hand? It doesn't work like that but whatever makes you feel at ease." She stepped up into her own alcove, somehow immune to the double Janeway glares she was getting.
The Doctor glanced rapidly between them. "Wait, would anyone mind telling me the plan? I'm only the physician who set up the alcoves and monitors everyone."
Morgan glanced at Harry then down at the hologram, "no can do, Doc. You said it yourself. It'll be fine, you don't need to do anything different. Let's do this."
"If you insist. Computer, begin regeneration cycle," Seven ordered. The computer acknowledged and the two drifted off.
The Doctor glanced at the console feeling some relief. He was thinking he misunderstood what was going on until Kathryn's eyes closed as well. "What?" the hologram stuttered, immediately looking down at the part of the station that monitored the brainwave patterns of the alcove users. On the left showed two very different lines doing their own thing. The one on the right looked similar until a third joined in and began to follow one of the other lines exactly.
"What, a third pattern," he said, glancing up again at Kathryn and Morgan. "What's going on here?"
The Borg Queen stood in front of half a dozen different screens, all but one showing what was happening in Unimatrix Zero from the perspective of drones. Two of them faded to black which made her visibly flinch with anger, she directed that rage towards two drones regenerating side by side on the other side of the chamber.
"So Unimatrix Zero is being infected by this disease as well," the Queen purred while grasping the nearest head. She began to stroke it, "I wonder if I can use it to my advantage."
"Um, can I help you?" the head spoke up timidly.
The Queen looked down and noticed the head still attached to the rest of a drone's body, crouched down on their knees to repair a foot shaped dent in a console. She pushed them away to their relief. "Yes you can. Take your head off and bring it back to me. It's rather soothing."
The drone scampered off before anyone else followed her orders.
"I must discover the reason for this malfunction. Then I can wield it," the Queen said. Then one particular screen caught her eye; a one watching James, Jessie and Axum from afar with branches obscuring some of their perspective. They were walking towards something to the left, occasionally talking about something.
The Borg Queen watched, growing more and more suspicious until Seven stepped out from behind one of the branches to meet up with them.
She was about to tell a group of nearby drones to attack them all when another figure rematerialised from seemingly nowhere. This one filled her with bubbling over rage and yet she smiled evilly.
The conscious drones nearby attempted to copy but only managed to pull off goofy. The drone who had his head groped earlier shook his head, quietly judging them, as he returned to work on his station.
"Janeway? But how? I thought you had to be Borg to get in here," Jessie stuttered.
"I'm not sure I understand it myself. Morgan only said forming a link would bring me in," Kathryn explained while her gaze automatically gravitated towards a nearby brown stream. She felt her lips getting a little moist and quickly dabbed the corner of her mouth with her hand, she thought discreetly but James' smirk told her otherwise.
Seven stared at her blankly. "I'm still not clear as to the purpose of this move. Though this plan was thought of by a child so..."
Another figure rematerialised only a couple of feet away from the group. All but Kathryn recoiled in shock since they recognised the new arrival.
"That's why," Kathryn casually said, brandishing a hand in her direction.
"Hello. I hope you don't mind that I drop in to see what the fuss is all about," the Borg Queen sneered. She robotically glanced toward Seven, "Seven of Nine," then Axum and Jessie, "Five of Twelve. Eight of Ten." Her eyes twitched when she got to James, "you."
"What, I don't get a number?" he couldn't help but laugh.
The Queen ignored him so her eyes could focus solely on Kathryn. "Captain Janeway!" she hissed. Kathryn smiled in response which angered her more. "Where's your meddlesome daughter?"
"I imagine she's making up for lost icecream begging time now that her dad's free," Kathryn replied.
"I meant Morgan," the Queen spat.
Kathryn's smile grew, it was almost identical to the one on Queen's poster of her. "Oh I know."
The Borg Queen growled. "No matter. I will destroy you first, that will lure her out. And do not think that I'm falling for your tricks again, Janeway. You think we will be so stupid to assimilate Morgan for the cure, infecting us further? No," she laughed wickedly, "she will die and so will he."
"Oh for, you need a new tune Queeny," Kathryn groaned.
"Tell me something I don't know," the Borg Queen grunted as the Justin Timberlake song started looping in her head again.
Kathryn couldn't hear it so had no idea what she meant, so she shook it off. "I had nothing to do with this glitch, I'm not even sure if I fully understand it. This accusation that I knowingly infected my own toddler daughter and a random crewmember with a virus and shipped them off to the Borg, just so a few random drones would act like a bunch of drunken idiots, is quite frankly laughable. I get enough of that on Voyager."
"Oh don't act so woefully ignorant. Even as we speak the boy here infects the collective with this sickening disease of individuality," the Queen said, gesturing to a trio of drones sitting in the courtyard enjoying a cup of something. Kathryn's eyes bugged out at the sight, subconsciously inching toward them. James meanwhile didn't look impressed with the third person boy remark. "You weren't satisfied with that, so you send the girl in to make this accursed place infect us further. You will pay for your continued interference."
"And how do you plan to do that?" Kathryn yawned mockingly.
The Borg Queen twitched so much it was visible at the other side of the courtyard, but not solely because of Kathryn. The drone with the chainsaw arm had caught her eye as he skipped around in the background, attempting to pick flowers. Unfortunately he used the wrong arm and shreds of petals and grass flew everywhere.
"Ohno," Jessie said as she saw it as well. She shuffled a little ways to her left to avoid it.
Typically though the drone ran towards them covered in the stuff, sobbing. The Borg Queen grabbed at the chainsaw arm to pull it right off his arm stub with minimal effort. Kathryn managed to look a little concerned at where this would go, until the Queen snapped the device clean in half. "Primitive weapon," she uttered in disgust.
Kathryn stared blankly, and she wasn't the only one. "Okay. No problem then." She glanced toward her crewmembers, "go, Unimatrix Zero still needs defending. I'll take care of her."
No one was surprised that Seven decided to listen to her with no hesitation. Jessie stepped back a bit but mainly to avoid the pollen floating her way which was already tickling her nose. She did eventually turn to hurry off until she realised James wasn't following. He stayed much to the Queen's amusement.
"Good. Form an orderly line. I'll be with you in a second," she sneered in Kathryn's direction.
The Captain scowled back. "Don't you dare, James. She'll assimilate you if she has the chance. Get out of here, she's too dang..."
The Queen pounced for her, knocking her clean to the ground to unleash a barrage of savage attacks.
"What..." Kathryn said, blinking up at her while occasionally trying to dodge incoming fingernails aiming for her face, "are you doing?"
"Die die, nyaaah haaar," the Queen growled.
James tried his best not to laugh, but Kathryn's open mouthed stare of judgement while the Borg Queen clawed her like a cat playing with a mouse on a string, wasn't doing him any favours. Then a male drone approached him, smirking.
"Cat fight!" he yelled in his ear, summoning a number of other drones to gather around.
Kathryn sighed impatiently, "well that's not fair, she hasn't got any hair to pull." The Borg Queen cackled deviously. Her hand shot forward to pull on Kathryn's bob.
Suddenly for no apparent reason at all the temperature of Unimatrix Zero went below freezing.
Meanwhile Seven & Axum were looking around the forest for anyone to help. They heard a scream and they ran as quickly as they could to get to the source of the scream. Some innocent woman was being chased by a hyper drone. Suddenly a bat'leth was thrown at it and it landed in the drone's back. It fell to the ground and disappeared.
Morgan ran out of the bushes and she picked up her weapon. "Crap, did I miss my cue?"
"In a time and place perspective, yes," Seven replied.
Morgan stood up with her eyebrow raised and her face scrunched up. "Huh?"
Seven rolled her eyes and pointed back over her shoulder, just in time for Kathryn's enraged screaming to echo throughout the forest.
"Oh," Morgan laughed, as if naive to what that meant.
"Where have you been anyway? I assumed you'd appear along with Annika and the Captain," Axum questioned.
Morgan glanced down and aside for a moment, "yeah well, I figured I needed to arm myself first, you know? I thought I'd have time before the Queen showed up."
Seven narrowed her eyes suspiciously, "by arm yourself you mean drink that vile cherry stuff."
"No," Morgan laughed but then burped far too loudly, "yes."
"Like mother, like daughter," Seven groaned.
Further shouting and screams drained the colour in Morgan's cheeks. "Mum. Hang on," she whispered before running off in the direction Axum and Seven walked from.
"I wouldn't worry about it. All these viruses and glitches have really made the Borg Queen pathetic and weak," Seven said in an unimpressed tone.
The Borg Queen laughed off all the blows coming her way until she had enough and lunged for Kathryn's throat, lifting her up off her feet. She thought it was over but Kathryn still gave her a knee to the stomach, her eyes flared.
"Cat fight!" the group of drones still shouted, only this time it had a sinister touch what with them surrounding both James and Jessie. Every few seconds they'd chant it again while one or two would lunge in to attack them.
The one gunning for James, he kneed in the ribs to make it double over, then he grabbed it by the shoulders to push it into a couple of others.
Another drone meanwhile bitchslapped Jessie pathetically. After a delayed what the hell stare, Jessie backhanded him in return. He ran off crying.
With pure hatred burning in her eyes, the Borg Queen tossed Kathryn into the tree. "Admit it Janeway. You are powerless against the might of the Borg. Resistance is fut-ill."
Steam rose, eyebrows rapidly flickered up and down, cheeks went red. "I beg your fuc..."
"Cat fight!" the drones chanted even while James punched one of them out. A one behind him tried to pounce onto his back, but Jessie stamped on the back of its leg making it instead stumble.
"Pardon!" Kathryn continued to snarl. The anger gave her the strength to push the Queen's hand from her, allowing her to drop back to her own feet.
The drone Jessie attacked swung his arm back. What with her being only as tall as his shoulder, it struck her in the face and sent her tumbling to the ground. James only overheard the commotion and swung around to see her vanish.
It looked a little too smug, until it landed on the exact same spot a second later. James then vanished as well.
The Queen sneered at Kathryn, having seen it. Kathryn with her back on them was oblivious to that and the approaching cat fight chanting drones.
"Oops, one down, one to go," the Queen taunted her.
Kathryn noticed the chants getting louder and quickly looked over her shoulder. When she turned back the Queen wasn't standing alone. Somebody stood partly crouched behind her. They stood and brandished a weapon. Kathryn tried not to smile so to not give that away.
"Speaking of one to go. What are you going to do when the collective is only you? I hear the Tolg is recruiting," Kathryn said.
"The Tolg?" the Borg Queen scoffed to hide her great offense. "Those bunch of corpses aren't good enough to scrub Unimatrix 47's floors." Crickets chirped, the Borg Queen's eyes narrowed, one of the chanting drones nervously laughed. Meanwhile a blade swung for her head.
It was a mere inch away when the Queen swung around to grab it, stopping it in its tracks. Doing so her eyes met with her attacker. "Morgan, I'm glad you could join us."
"Yeah, me too," Morgan smirked.
She tried to pull her weapon back, the Queen kept an iron grip on it. The pair struggled with it until the Queen had enough and pushed while letting go instead. Morgan was thrown back, the bat'leth slipped from her hand. It dropped to the ground and span a little ways towards the Queen, allowing her to crouch down and pick it up.
Morgan recovered in time to duck, then roll away from a few swings. The Queen held the bat'leth horizontally and swung it all around her front, Morgan leapt back. The attack had left the Queen's torso exposed with the right arm still across her left, recoiling from the swing. Morgan then pounced forward to tackle her, knocking the Queen hard onto her back.
The grip on the bat'leth loosened from the shock of the blow, so Morgan snatched it back and swung it in the direction of the Queen.
Her last words were of course an angered, "Janewa..." before she vanished.
"That's it, she's... the Borg's gone," Morgan said in between trying to catch her breath. Kathryn approached her with a proud smile, an arm went around her shoulders. Morgan smiled weakly.
"Well until they replace her again," Axum said on approach. He whimpered at the incoming glares. "What? You never heard of Queen Alice? Now she was the Borg, absolutely terrifying and um... bad touchy."
All of the male drones passed each other nervous and knowing looks. There had to be one who smiled and nodded though.
Kathryn groaned in disgust. "That's... disturbing. How much time do we have?"
"Long enough to give the new collective a hard time, and that we're going to do," Axum said proudly. Seven arrived by Axum's side, she clutched his arm. He smiled at her lovingly for a moment, then looked back at a queasy Kathryn and Morgan. "The damage to the Borg before the Queen's defeat will make a massive difference this time. Whoever takes over would still need a cure for the glitch and Unimatrix Zero. I doubt the Borg will ever trouble anyone again."
"I'm going to hold you to that," Kathryn tried to smile through her nausea. Seven groping Axum's arm wasn't helping.
Axum nodded, "we couldn't have done this without you and your crew, Captain. I can't thank you enough. If there's anything we can do, name it."
"Well, there is something. You did have a sphere in the vicinity..." Kathryn said, but she and Morgan reappeared in the Cargo Bay mid sentence. "What the hell happened?"
A painful moan from the neighbouring alcove got both their as well as James and Jessie's attention. They glanced over to see Seven stumbling forward while rubbing the back of her head.
Axum glared at a sheepish looking drone, all while clutching an extremely fizzed up bottle of Cherry Coke. "What did you do that for?"
"That Annika chick is no good, she was only using you to get back at not one but two guys, a Morgan and James. I though love you," they replied.
"I... I don't even know who you are," Axum stammered.
"For god's sake, I was going to ask them for a few transwarp coils," Kathryn groaned. She tapped her commbadge, "Janeway to Bridge. Hail the sphere."
"Captain? The sphere left half an hour ago," Tuvok's voice said.
Kathryn shook with rage. Seven knew better than to stay within arm's reach, she hurried over to stand near the Doctor.
"We can go back in, mu..." Morgan said.
"No," Kathryn snapped. "They said they would help us out but then even the so called Klingon and his honour code sod off first chance they get. Forget it. If Seven can stop herself molesting Axbum for a few seconds, she can bring it up but I'll not hold my breath."
Seven pulled a face, "yeah right, his breath stinks of Cherry Coke. I do not intend to go back. Doctor...?"
The hologram was about to object, fearing the Captain's wrath but she walked off showing little interest. "All right, I can modify your cortical array."
"See, completely useless," Kathryn muttered as the bay doors shut behind her.
Morgan noticed Seven's shoulders tense at hearing that. She passed her a little smirk on her way out, "can't argue with that."
Jessie meekly raised her hand. "Yeah, can I get in on the Unimatrix Zero removal train too?"
The Doctor sighed, "it only activates when you regenerate and intentionally stimulate the cortical a..."
"Great thanks," Jessie smiled and hurried out as well.
Soon all that was left behind were the Doctor, Seven and Harry. The latter grunted and pouted about still being behind a forcefield, and ignored as the Doctor used a device near Seven's head.
"There. Now I can concentrate on treating Mr Kim," the Doctor said to Harry's huge relief.
"Great, can you start on this one particular nanoprobe? It's in an awkward place and it's itchy as hell," Harry asked.
"One moment Doctor," Seven said, once more getting the Doctor's attention.
Harry groaned, "it hurts when I sit too."
"Since you are removing Borg technology, would it be too much to ask if I can get some removed as well?" Seven asked.
The Doctor looked on in amazement, "really? You said how you were was perfectly functional."
"It's on my butt," Harry said with self pity.
"That's correct, but a lot has changed in three years," Seven said. "So, will you help me?"
The Doctor smiled warmly, "it would be my pleasure, Seven."
"Please, call me Annika," Seven said.
All the tables were taken, some people had resorted to eating standing up. Danny was in the middle of working her way around the whole room, showing off her engagement ring.
Jessie watched her from over her shoulder until she moved directly behind her. She returned her attention to her table, jumping in shock as she laid eyes on two of the taken seats. "Huh, when did you...?"
Morgan snickered as she sipped on her drink. "About ten minutes ago."
"So it seems like I missed some fun. I would've liked to have seen this Unimatrix Cherry Coke," Craig said.
"Yeah I'll bet," Morgan said. "It wasn't as good as you imagine though."
James nodded, "true, but we didn't go on a normal day. Too crowded I think."
"That reminds me; I get that you, Tani and James were able to piggyback on Seven and I's mutation, we're all Borg and all," Jessie said.
Morgan bit her lip and glanced at the table as she spoke. "But how did my mum get in?" she said immediately afterwards.
Jessie looked a little shocked, "um yeah."
"That's... that's complicated, and a long story," Morgan said, shifting in her seat uncomfortably.
"Does this long story include how you got the forcefield down?" James questioned.
Craig smiled cheekily, he tried to repress a laugh too. "Oh, someone's worried about being replaced by a younger model."
Morgan pulled a disgusted face, while James' was a mixture of a frown and amused. Jessie glanced between him and Craig, shrugged and returned to her half eaten sandwich.
"No, just curious. You have to keep learning new tricks if you want to be any good at hacking," James said.
"I wouldn't really call it hacking," Morgan said sheepishly. James looked even more curious than he was before. "And yeah it's the same story. I um," she struggled to think of a way to explain it, "got an upgrade when I was out of it."
That answer only confused the table further. "An upgrade to what?" Jessie asked.
Morgan's eyes darted side to side nervously, they ended up pointing almost in James' direction. "I thought... I figured you knew." Jessie shook her head, the two men though waited for her to continue. "I'm a Games Slayer."
"What?" Jessie blurted out in shock.
Craig's reaction was merely a quiet, "huh?"
"Yeah, I met this woman while unconscious. She basically bumped up my telepathy so I'd get it now, not later. I reminded Tom about the forcefield and he thought about changing a timer. That's how I got mum in, telepathic link thingy," Morgan said. She spotted her mother rush through the closest doors, then shove somebody away from the replicator. The queue behind them didn't dare object. "I'll prove it. Mum's thinking..."
"Coffee, coffee, coffee?" Craig said.
Morgan scowled at him, "no! Well yeah, but she's also thinking that when she finds out who deleted black coffee from her replicator, she's gonna wring their necks."
James laughed, only a smidgen nervous. Jessie glanced at him with an accusatory expression. "Oh gee, I wonder who's so impulsively stupid to do something like that?" she said very sarcastically.
James directed a smile toward her, "I'd prefer to call it entertaining."
"Um, what's a Games Slayer?" Craig meekly asked.
Kathryn elbowed someone standing directly behind her, "it's still my turn! Piss off back to the end of the line, you chump."
That person hobbled off clutching their sore ribs, they accidentally bumped into Chakotay. He was shaking his head in disgust when Kathryn flounced away from the replicator and toward him with her stash of coffee. She stopped a few feet away and glared, daring him to say anything.
"So, when you're done assaulting our crew and making a fool of yourself, we can talk about our problem," he said harshly.
"Oh take your high road off a cliff you pillock. It's been a stressful day and he was standing up my backside," Kathryn snapped back. Chakotay rolled his eyes.
Morgan saw and heard the whole thing, her shoulders slumped as she sadly sighed.
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